Should I enter this field?

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Apr 29, 2007 7:25 pm

I am a woman in my early 30's considering whether I should enter the Financial Advisor field.  I am now in academia (alas, not in Economics or Finance) but am very unhappy in it, partly because the work I do is so remote from everyday life and partly because the pay and prospects are so poor. 


I have an analytic temperament and have always enjoyed doing things related to money management -- I'm a good investor of the little money we have, love doing taxes for all our friends etc.  I am also very much a people-person and have significant experience in an advisory role at the university.  All this, together with the fact that many firms seem to want to recruit people from diverse fields, makes me think that a career as an FA is a serious possibility.


I have some "affinity" groups: university employees, my husband's current lawschool classmates who will hopefully be making good money in the near future (he will finish his JD next year and many of his cohorts are likely to get BigLaw jobs in our area), alumni groups from my college and my graduate school, both of which are very active in our area.


Given all this, do you think I should consider becoming an FA?  Do you think I have a good chance of being hired?  I probably don't have to say this on this forum, but please don't hold back: I can take it!  In fact, I would rather hear all about the negatives before making a big career move.


Many thanks for any advice you can give!

Apr 29, 2007 7:58 pm

Are you pretty?

Apr 29, 2007 8:04 pm
Bobby Hull:

Are you pretty?


My husband thinks so

Apr 29, 2007 8:05 pm

Read this first before entering the industry.  Ask yourself if you can handle it.  Remember, you have to get your own clients and to get them to invest with you in order to get paid.

http://www.theintellectualviewpoint.com/reading/thecommonden ominatorofsuccess-albertengray.pdf


Apr 29, 2007 9:18 pm

Do you want a job in sales?

Apr 29, 2007 9:52 pm

PS:  I've researched the field some as I mentioned to you in the pm I just sent you.  I forgot to say, I also have a contact on this site who sends info via pm's if requested... (apparently doesn't want to get into the bashing/bullying wars):  I'll give you his/her name for future ref: if he doesn't mind helping you then you can communicate via pms: just pm me if you are interested and I'll see if he would be willing to assist you in making your decision.  Please keep his/her name confidential. 


If Silohette is still around, then maybe he could give you some info, too.  He's very knowledgeable and helpful.  So is whomit (very smart/nice guy), bondguy as well as jodabrkr, too.


You might consider doing some "cold-calling" to financial services offices and telling them you want some information about the career field: might be able to get some info this way, too as well as some good network contacts.  Judging by some of the posts on this site, finding a good company to start with would be your first order of due dilligence after you decide this field is right for you.

Apr 30, 2007 2:29 am

Yes, firms want to hire women.


Can you handle a potential cut in pay that may last for 2-3 years?


Can you handle rejection...again and again and again?


Can you handle office politics, particularly if it seems that others get all the breaks and you get the crumbs?  You'll probably feel this way a lot, particularly in the beginning.


Are you an 8-5 type or can you handle 60-hour weeks while you are building a book?


If you can handle these issues, are a hard worker, good with people, sales, and are intelligent, you have a fighting chance.  Most don't make it (I hear 90% thrown around a lot), but if you do, there are few careers more satisfying.


Good luck with your search, but be careful who you take advice from on this forum.  It seems there are folks who like to post here and dole out career advice, even though they have no - read my lips - zero - experience in this field.  Advice from such folks is a waste of your time and definitely not worth what you pay for it...

Apr 30, 2007 3:19 am
Indyone:

Can you handle a potential cut in pay that may last for 2-3 years?


Ha!  Let's just say that they probably can't pay me less than I'm being paid right now (and that's only a slight exaggeration!).  The hope, though, is that my husband will start earning well quite soon and that my income in the first few years will not matter too much.


To answer some of your other questions: no, I don't expect an 8-5 job.  In academia, we're pretty much used to working all the time, even weekends and many evenings.  So I don't think 60-hour work weeks are in general a problem.  Does it get better, though, after the first few years?  Also, when people say 60 hours, is that just the time you're at your desk, or does it also involve the spent prospecting, networking etc. outside the office?


As for office politics, don't know how much that will affect me.  I've rarely had to deal with much of it so far. 


The one thing I am worried about is how much I will enjoy the sales aspect of this job.  It's certainly very different from what I've had to do so far -- that makes it both more refreshing and also more scary. 


One last question: do you think a wirehouse is the best way to go for someone in my situation or should I go with a more independent set-up such as Edward Jones?


Thanks again for all your suggestions!


Apr 30, 2007 7:23 am

You may want to try a sales job in another industry first.  You'll probably make more money in the beginning and you'll find out if you enjoy sales.

Apr 30, 2007 12:38 pm

Wirehouse vs Indy for you?  Interview at both and see where you feel more comfortable.  Having worked at both I enjoy being independent.  That said, there are several business models for a reason.  Investigate and get a comfort level.

Apr 30, 2007 1:13 pm
Indyone:

Good luck with your search, but be careful who you take advice from on this forum.  It seems there are folks who like to post here and dole out career advice, even though they have no - read my lips - zero - experience in this field.  Advice from such folks is a waste of your time and definitely not worth what you pay for it...



IT is amazing how parachute/goforbroke is willing to dole out advice on how to succeed in a field where she has no experience.  It's so irresponsible because someone could make a decision based upon advice without knowing that the source is completely unqualified.  Then again, there's people(like Suze Ormond) who people rely upon for investment advice despite their apparent lack of knowledge and experience, too.

Apr 30, 2007 2:43 pm
rikkitikkitavi:

I am a woman in my early
30's considering whether I should enter the Financial
Advisor field.  I am now in academia (alas, not in Economics
or Finance) but am very unhappy in it, partly because the
work I do is so remote from everyday life and partly because the
pay and prospects are so poor.





This carrer is 100% opposite to academia. Seriously, its a brutal sales job with same intellectual component as a fist fight.



I would try to find something that interests you in Academia, the world goes down hill very rapidly outside those Ivy Walls.


Apr 30, 2007 2:44 pm

Rikki,


You should try opening your own business providing financial planning and investment advice for an hourly or project fee. I would not recommend going with a product sales company, which is any broker-dealer (Ed Jones, Merrill, Wachovia Sec, LPL, etc.). You will get poisoned by the overbearing sales culture and burn out.


You can position yourself with your university and law school people as a consultant and they will respect you for it. It is not difficult to do. All you need is the Series 65/66 exam.


You can then dip your toe in working part-time at first and figure out what you like to do, planning vs. asset/investment management.


If you go with a major brokerage you will not use your analytical skills at all. It's SELL, SELL, SELL. They want you to be like RonCo-Set it, and forget!


PM me if you'd like some details on how to get started. You can easily be doing $3,000-$5,000 a month within 2-3 months. And you won't feel like a louse for charging commissions or putting people into surrender charges.

Apr 30, 2007 3:25 pm

It's been my experience that former teachers do very well in this business.


My advice would be to go work for a Wirehouse (Merrill, UBS, Smith Barney, etc.) for at least 2yrs. From there, you can go to a Bank Program if you're not happy, or don't have the $25mill aum.


hope that helps.

Apr 30, 2007 4:08 pm
anonymous:

Do you want a job in sales?


That is the BEST question.  Can you search out and find qualified clients?  How will you do that?  Can you close a sale?  This is a sales job.  Can you ask people for their money?  Is there a reason they would give their money to you?


Tough field, but great if you make it.

Apr 30, 2007 4:24 pm

here's the advice I gave her via pm:


Otherwise, check out info on the Internet, too.


Here's a link to get you started.


http://www.onlinemlm.com/articledirectory/articledetail.php? artid=30997&catid=51&title=Financial+Advisor+Career


You might want to research financial services companies as well.


Goforbroke told me she interviewed with AEFA, now Ameriprise --(assume Ameriprise may be the same):  require that you work 80 hours per week; pay for your own licenses $3-5K; draw $25K (pay back with commission).  Interesting screening criteria as she explained to me, too: you have to bring a prospect list to the second interview.  Computer screening test to find out how devious you are--intuitive--you know the right answers to give them to get considered; mock travel agent role: you have to sell the travel package with the most commission.


I suggest that you put together a specific list of questions to ask and maybe you can get more info this way.


I've heard it's male dominated so might be a little tough for a female.  I'm sure Babbling Looney will have some info for you, too.


Was going to post but didn't want to get the cyber bullies all agitated.

Apr 30, 2007 4:26 pm

read my lips:  If I don't know:  I say so.


pm#2


I'd stay far away from Ameriprise:  I thought I gave you enough of a warning here.


Your friend should be able to give you enough info for you to make your decision.


Now, this would be a good question to add in the topic you initiated:


"the big decision will be between the independent brokerages and the wirehouses?"  Why not ask it?


Maybe there's someone on the site who made the transition from wirehouse to independent brokerage who could give you the loaddown.  Most "indy's" on the site seem to be happy (from what I gather) with the decision to be "indy" but whether you can do that without experience, don't know.  


Sometimes, it seems, one needs to start somewhere just to gain some experience.  But, if you've already distinguished that one company type might be better than the other, then, you're ahead of the game.  There's also www.amexsux.com (goforbroke mentioned this site to me:  we traded a few pm's when I sympathized with her over all of the bullying, primarily from BHall.


I've mentioned that I've done a little research and can't advise you and don't profess to know the business or advise anyone either.  I'm not arrogant or pretentious:  if I don't know the answers, I always admit it.    I'm only an mba student and just got the AEFA interview info from prior poster, goforbroke.  Luckily one person did come forward via a pm and offered to give some info.  If I get any other helpful info on the "biz" -- I'll be sure to update you.


I'll have to admit, I was turned off by the criteria from Ameriprise: that is a test where you don't necessarily put your client's best interests first as well as the computer screening to see how devious you are:  if this is how the job is, who would want a job like this.  But I'm still investigating the field; can't form conclusions based on one company. Almost forgot, goforbroke stated that you could also work to be independent or have your own franchise with Ameriprise once you build up a client base.  Apply there, go to the seminar and see for yourself. 


More women should consider this career field since apparently it appears to be dominated by males (but then again, it's math oriented and they are better with math, aren't they?)  I'm looking at other options since I'm not really a sales person; but am still investigating the career field, for now.


Good luck in your decision!


Wish you the Best!

Apr 30, 2007 5:01 pm

Hmmm, some people probably mis-spell Suzie Orman's name on purpose since they think she might hunt them down and sue them.


I'm not a fan of Suzi'e but understand gfb was.  GFB told me there was a Suzie Orman of DIY Investing on the amexsux site (macca).  Macca doesn't have a high opinion of Ameriprise (or aefa).


Doesn't sound like anyone is really being that encouraging to you but some of these guys do seem to really enjoy their jobs, though.


You say you have affinity associations...your husband could lose friends fast: people get turned off by sales use caution in how you approach potential prospects (this advice is based on sales people coming on to strong to me). (Your neighbors might move away!) Any job where you have to find your own prospects has got to be challenging unless you already have lots of well established relationships with builtin trust and confidence.  You can learn more about this field by visiting the amexsux.com, too. (I checked it out recently).  It does take awhile to read thru lots of topics to find the info you are looking for and not sure if the search will accomplish finding the info any faster, either. 


One other thing re: ameriprise:  you're required to give lists of prospects and then if you don't make your quota, you're fired.  Apparently, there's a turnover; but then, ameriprise benefits by getting new clients via newhires.

Apr 30, 2007 5:32 pm

Thanks, everyone, for your useful and encouraging replies. 


EDJ to RIA: I do think having my own business is where I'd eventually like to end up.  Since I absolutely don't have any credentials in this field, I don't see how I can just hang up a shingle and offer advice.  So I wonder if the better option might not be to work for, say, a Morgan Stanley or a Merrill Lynch for a few years before setting myself up independently.


Vin Diesel: Thanks for telling me that teachers do well in this field; I would think that at least some of the skills transfer very well indeed. 


And AllREIT: it's also good to know that being an FA is the opposite of academia!  I do think I understand what you mean.  I imagine the huge emphasis on sales is something that definitely doesn't exist in the academic world. 


You're all right that the "sales" question is the big sticking point.  I do know that I'm very persuasive and can earn people's trust.  However, I don't really know if I have the stomach for asking people for their money.  Later in the week I'm talking to an acquaintance who is leaving a job as an FA at Morgan Stanley to get back to school for a PhD -- so perhaps that will clarify things. 


Thanks again for all your help so far.

Apr 30, 2007 5:54 pm
rikkitikkitavi:

Thanks, everyone, for your useful and encouraging replies. 


EDJ to RIA: I do think having my own business is where I'd eventually like to end up.  Since I absolutely don't have any credentials in this field, I don't see how I can just hang up a shingle and offer advice.  So I wonder if the better option might not be to work for, say, a Morgan Stanley or a Merrill Lynch for a few years before setting myself up independently.


Vin Diesel: Thanks for telling me that teachers do well in this field; I would think that at least some of the skills transfer very well indeed. 


And AllREIT: it's also good to know that being an FA is the opposite of academia!  I do think I understand what you mean.  I imagine the huge emphasis on sales is something that definitely doesn't exist in the academic world. 


You're all right that the "sales" question is the big sticking point.  I do know that I'm very persuasive and can earn people's trust.  However, I don't really know if I have the stomach for asking people for their money.  Later in the week I'm talking to an acquaintance who is leaving a job as an FA at Morgan Stanley to get back to school for a PhD -- so perhaps that will clarify things. 


Thanks again for all your help so far.



I think it would be impossible to begin as an independent financial advisor.  A good starting point would be at Merril or other firm.  Even EDJ is a good place to start.    Being a teacher and able to explain complex ideas to clients in less than complex wording is very valuable.  I'm a firm believer in educating my client's first, then selling a product.  You will find that as a FA you acquire clients who tend to think and feel the same way as you do.  If you are an analytical stock jockey, your clients will tend to gravitate that direction also.


Selling is just part of being a FA.  You also need to be able to continually stay in contact with your clients, hold their hands, counsel them through tough times (death, marital separation, loses in the portfolio).  If you get nervous asking for some one's money, imagine when that money loses 10 to 30% in value as happened in 2000 for many people.  The responsibility is scary and sometimes very gut churning.


As a woman, you will have other hurdles, especially in the wirehouse atmosphere....on of the last bastions of male chauvinist behavior.   You will also find resistance from prospects who are old school enough to feel that a man is better.  Even the women will come with this attitude.


My advice here is don't make a big deal out of it. Roll with the punches, don't whine, have a sense of humor and just be better than everyone else.  As my mother told me and I told my daughter.....Success is the best revenge.